November 13, 2014 · 12:10 am
[Spoilers ahead for Marvel comics and Being Human]
A series’ heart is its characters—whether it’s comedy, tragedy, fantasy, what have you, generally speaking, if you’re going to really capture the audience what you want is a good cast. You could have the most banal or wacky concept in the world, but if you have good characters people like and are interested in, people will watch it. Similarly, you could have the coolest and most fascinating backdrop ever, but without good characters to form that human connection, nothing’s going to glue. So, once you’ve got this band of characters that forms the bridge of audience attachment, you’d be silly to change them, right? Well, not always. Not every series revolves around the same set of fictional people for its entirety, and sometimes it’s beautiful and sometimes it’s bad.
Some series cling to their characters for decades, some change them every few seasons as a matter of course (like Skins), some bring back beloved concepts with new faces (Star Trek: Next Gen perhaps). Every long-running series has a kind of conceptual mould at its heart (e.g. Madoka Magica’s mould is “young girls fight monsters and discover the evil in the system they’re fighting for”) and a set of main characters (Madoka, Homura, Sayaka and co.). Sometimes, if they run long enough, these can get a little tired, so you have to change things up, unless you’ve got something truly episodic with no excessive continuity like old sitcoms. Generally, you can either change the characters (for example, bring in a new group of Magical Girls to follow) or break the mould (now instead of this being a story about fighting monsters it’s about fighting each other and their various dubious motivations).
Comics often keep their moulds, but get new characters within it. The new Thor comics star a woman (to the ecstatic cries of one half of the internet and the groans of the other, of course) not because Thor as we know him has been warped into a sex change, but because a new character has picked up the hammer and gained the powers therein, thus becoming the person to carry the title. So you can still have all your adventures that play with the universe and themes that suit that story, but to keep things fresh there’s a new lead to follow, get attached to, come to understand. It keeps the flavour and formula the same, but changes up the human connection to make things interesting and fresh. Thor was also a frog at one point, I’m pretty sure, so it’s not as if this is something new. Continue reading →
October 16, 2014 · 12:07 am
Ah, the Thors—possibly the weakest MCU instalments, which still makes them better and more fun than a lot of other superhero movies. Like Captain America and the Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor presents an interesting and rather ridiculous premise for filmmakers to turn Big Screen Awesome, with the comic’s canon drawn (increasingly loosely) from Norse mythology, pulling that whole “advanced beings visited earth and primitive people decided they were gods” thing. The movies do, however, manage to weave together comics and myth into a story of world-hopping, cloaked heroes speaking olden-timey English and shiny science-magic that we can suspend our disbelief enough to enjoy and get involved with.
And gosh is it pretty (no, not just Chris Hemsworth). The first movie makes full use of its design and lighting to world-build, creating different atmospheres entirely for the three settings—Asgard, Jodenheim, and a tin-pot town in the middle of New Mexico (a nice change, really, after all this big city destruction). Asgard is all majestic camera pans and golden sunshiney lighting, the architecture just the right mix of fantastical and spacey not to look tacky. Hovering towers with Norse swirls all over them? Yes, you can make it mix. They take concepts like the Rainbow Bridge guarded by an all-seeing man in gold and make them believable and mesmerising to look at (no, not just Idris Elba), managing to look cool at the same time as setting up an otherworldly and beautiful atmosphere for the place that, yes, is rather godly.
The home of the Frost Giants is all in blues and blacks by comparison, and feels immediately cold and unforgiving, not just because of the colour scheme inversion to Asgard but in the cinematography. Earth too feels notably different, but not simply because it’s drab: that setting too has its own specific colouring and lighting (and many, many diagonal camera angles) to make it interesting in its own right, in a clutter-of-humanity kind of way, as opposed to the desolation-of-Frost-Giants kind of way or a majesty-of-gods kind of way. Each place is a character of its own, all elements of design carefully chosen and wonderfully executed to make them feel as vibrant as each other in significantly different ways. Where did this tact with characterisation and prettiness go in Thor: The Dark World? Fell off the Bifrost, I can only imagine. Continue reading →
August 29, 2013 · 12:31 am
Look out Thor there’s an attempt at widening the demographic stuck to your chest!
I gripe and grumble a lot about romance on here, and I just want you all to know that I do not actually hate it. I am not a pointy-nosed cynic with a shrivelled soul and a vendetta against any film that isn’t black-and-white and so artistic it’s incomprehensible, and any book that isn’t a first edition, weighty philosophical tome of mournfulness and dry social commentary from at least a hundred years ago. I am not only a modern movie buff and reader of things with shiny covers but a giant bloody sap, and I adore the love story in all its incarnations. I just hate it when it’s done badly.
Within the fictional realm you can barely budge an inch without bumping into some semblance of a romantic plotline. Love is a universal human theme, one of those few, bizarre and magical natural occurrences that manages to be common as mud but still unique every time it appears. Love stories are everywhere because they resonate—by and large, love is something that everyone can relate to (in some way or form), so we form an immediate empathetic connection. They’re pretty great, really.
But. But, but, but. We are so in love with love that we feel the need to put it everywhere, even where it doesn’t belong. Are we in our own obnoxious stage of our relationship with romance where everything must relate back to the object of our desire, whether it’s really relevant or not? We can’t shut up about it and, though the infatuation is endearing, it’s starting to annoy our friends. And ‘our friends’, for the purposes of this post, means this blogger. Continue reading →
Filed under Things We Need to Stop Doing
Tagged as action films, cinema, Iron Man, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pacific Rim, Pepper Potts, romance, Thor, Thor 2: The Dark World, Warm Bodies